The NFL Draft is one of the most exciting weekends of the year for NFL fans because it provides a glimpse into the future of their favorite franchises. Although a superstar can be found in any round of the draft (i.e., Tom Brady drafted in the 6th round and Antonio Brown being drafted in the 5th round of their respective drafts),it's obvious that the earlier a player is drafted, the more pressure that player will face to perform at a high level.
While general managers, scouts, and coaches spend months preparing for the draft in an attempt to determine which players will ultimately shine in the NFL, there is no exact formula. Some teams rely on college film to determine a players draft-ability, while others prefer to evaluate the physical skills the players display at the scouting combine and pro-days. Regardless of how prepared teams are for the draft, it is inevitable that there will be players who fail to transition well in the NFL and thus earn the dreaded "bust" title.
The 2017 draft was one of the most unpredictable drafts in the past decade and thus many players were drafted higher than they were originally expected. Now with the draft complete, let's take a look at the top 15 players that are likely to be labeled bust by this time next year. For their sake, let's hope that I'm wrong.
15 Christian McCaffrey, RB - Carolina Panthers
While at Stanford, Christian McCaffrey was one of the most explosive and exciting players in all of college football. In fact, McCaffrey owns the all-time NCAA record for total multi-purpose yards in a season with 3,864. So clearly the kid has a serious game and Panther's fans are understandably excited.
But something just doesn't sit right when evaluating McCaffrey's ability to translate his talent to the NFL level. It's unlikely he will ever be an every down running back given his smaller than average size and style of play, but he could develop as a great third down back and return specialist. But is a third down back and return specialist really worth the 8th overall pick? My guess is not. He's the next Reggie
Bust Bush at best.
14 Evan Engram, TE - New York Giants
Surprisingly drafted in the first round, Evan Engram was surely ecstatic to be joining the New York Giants and Eli Manning. Engram has exceptional speed for a tight end, which allows him to make big plays down the center of the field. But is Engram ready to be a tight end at the NFL level?
Although Jimmy Graham began to change the traditional tight end position into more of a pass-catching position, Engram will still be relied on putting his hand in the ground and run-blocking in the NFL. He may create mismatch problems for Eli Manning to exploit, but if he fails to do so he will not be able to provide anything else and would be labeled a bust. Engram also will have to deal with the bright lights that come with playing in the Big Apple.
13 Garett Bolles, OL - Denver Broncos
Garett Bolles was easily one of the most interesting stories of the 2017 draft, given his troubled past and unique personality. After being kicked out of his father's home as a teenager, he fought hard to turn his life around. Bolles started his collegiate career at a small school, before transferring to Utah, where he earned All-Pac12 honors in his only season with the Utes.
It is difficult for an offensive lineman to be labeled a bust, but I can see Bolles earning this unwanted label after his first season in Denver. He is joining an offensive line that will require him to immediately step in and start, but my gut feeling is he will take several years before he is able to produce at a high level. Bolles should have stayed for his senior season at Utah, but due to his older age (almost 25) he chose to enter the draft on a high note.
12 Jabrill Peppers, S - Cleveland Browns
Jabrill Peppers actually has potential to be a game changing player in the NFL because he is one of the most pure athletes available in this draft. His two biggest issues are: (1) teams aren't sure what position he will be able to excel at in the NFL and (2) he got drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
The Cleveland Browns are were talented prospects go to die. We will give them a break on Myles Garrett, as far as this list goes at least. But Peppers' talent and skill level are unable to escape the ultimate black hole that is Cleveland. While the Browns got a talented player, he will be unable to fulfill his first round expectations and leave the Dawg Pound chomping their teeth. But then Peppers will go to the Patriots and become an All-Pro (halfway joking).
11 Dalvin Cook, RB - Minnesota Vikings
Another guy that saw his draft stock fall due to off-field issues, Dalvin Cook was eventually drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the 41st pick of the draft. Cook was a standout rusher at Florida State and left the school as it's all-time leading rusher with 4,464 rushing yards, despite foregoing his senior season. Cook has decent size, speed, and shiftiness that will provide him every opportunity to excel at the next level.
Unfortunately for Cook, he has the unenviable task of replacing perhaps the greatest running back of the past decade, Adrian Peterson. Yes, replacing Peterson will not be possible and hopefully Vikings fans will understand that. But the constant comparisons to Peterson and the Vikings' weak offensive line will prove to be too much for Cook to overcome. Bust.
10 Patrick Mahomes II, QB - Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs put all of their eggs in one basket when they traded two first round picks to move up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes. Andy Reid has a history of developing starting quarterbacks, including the legendary Brett Favre. Not coincidentally, Mahomes is often compared to as Favre in his playing style.
But Mahomes is not the next Favre; sorry Chiefs fans. It is true that Mahomes has an incredibly strong arm and can make all of the throws at the NFL level, but he is not an NFL-level of quarterback. There has never been a highly successful quarterback at the NFL that came out of an "air raid" style of offense in college. Mahomes will not be the exception.
9 Adoree' Jackson, CB - Tennessee Titans
Admittedly, I am a huge fan of Adoree' Jackson. The only issue with Adoree' is that his draft position just set unrealistic expectations on him. Jackson would have been a solid second round pick with the ability to provide stout coverage from the nickel corner position, but now there are expectations that he will be a shutdown corner.
Adoree' is certain to make plays at some point next season, as he is also a highly talented return specialist, but don't expect him to be able to hang with the top talent in the NFL. Adoree' may be an uber-athlete, but he will not be able to shut down the larger receivers like Julio Jones or Larry Fitzgerald. In his defense, nobody can truly shut down those guys but you get the point.
8 Corey Davis, WR - Tennessee Titans
Back-to-back Titans busts? One of the most surprising picks in the draft was seeing Corey Davis go #5 overall to the Tennessee Titans. Not because Davis isn't a talented receiver (I mean the guy broke several FBS receiving records), but more so because Davis was not able to perform at the scouting combine or at his pro day because of an injury. Do the Titans truly know what they are getting with Davis? Only time will tell.
Davis has the potential to be a game-breaker in the Titans offense. At his best, he could become a true #1 for the exciting young quarterback Marcus Mariotta. But it's hard to predict how Davis's game will translate from small-school Western Michigan to the NFL. In the NFL, the defenders get bigger, faster, and meaner. If Davis can adjust to the brighter lights, he will have me eating my words but at #5 overall, Davis will look like a bust years from now.
7 Joe Mixon, RB - Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have the dubious honor of having two players on this list. In the second round, the Bengals took a risk on a player with the most egregious off-field issues in the draft. Last year, a video surfaced of Joe Mixon violently punching a female at a bar in Oklahoma, nearly knocking her unconscious. Combine his past with Pacman Jones's and the Bengals have a highly combustible situation.
But the Bengals took the bait and drafted Mixon, who may just be the most purely talented running back in the NFL. He was often compared to young superstars David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell (come on now though, Mixon is not going to take the top spots from those two anytime soon). Although talented, Mixon's play will be shrouded in turmoil and drama, which will slowly drain his ability. I really hope this guy is a bust.
6 John Ross, WR - Cincinnati Bengals
John Ross can flat out fly. He set a new record at the scouting combine by running a 4.22 second 40-yard dash. The speed he displayed made many coaches salivate and it dramatically raised his draft stock, ultimately going #9 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. Ross will be expected to immediately contribute as the starting wide-receiver opposite of All-Pro AJ Green.
But Ross's speed will not be able to bail him out like it did at the University of Washington. Ideally, Ross will be able to just run deep routes every play, but that's not how the NFL works. Ross must improve his route running and concentration if he wants to excel at the highest level. Ross may be a strong slot receiver one day, but he will never be able to live up to his top-10 selection expectations.
5 DeShone Kizer, QB - Cleveland Browns
Again, there is a solid argument that every player selected by the Cleveland Browns is likely to be a bust because of the fact that they play for the Browns. DeShone Kizer was a highly touted prospect coming into the draft, but fell down draft boards for some reason as the draft got closer. Kizer was ultimately selected by the Browns in the second round.
Kizer is not an NFL quality quarterback at this time and he will need years before he is capable of being an every week starter (which would be his ceiling). The Browns will instead force Kizer into the starting role too soon and he will fall flat on his face. Let's hope that doesn't happen, but don't be surprised if it does. The Browns will soon be searching for yet another potential franchise QB.
4 T.J. Watt, LB - Pittsburgh Steelers
If the last name looks familiar, it should because T.J. Watt is the younger brother of All-Pro J.J. Watt. Watt was drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers and is expected to learn from the ageless James Harrison before eventually taking over the starting outside linebacker role. But don't expect him to be the next J.J. Watt.
The draft hype surrounding T.J. Watt seemed a little bit unwarranted. Yes, Watt is an outstanding football player and showed his worth over his career at the University of Wisconsin, but it's clear that there was more hype due to his last name. Watt will be a strong NFL player and likely have a long career, but I can't foresee him making any Pro-Bowls. Overall, this appears to be a bit of a reach for a talented, albeit overhyped player.
3 Reuben Foster, LB - San Francisco 49ers
Two months ago, it appeared that Reuben Foster would be a top-10 selection. Then Foster got kicked out of the combine for yelling at a nurse; failed a drug test due to a diluted sample; and had questions regarding the health of his shoulder. Still, this did not stop the 49ers from from trading up in the first round to select the hard-hitting foster.
At first glance, San Francisco appears to be an ideal landing spot for Foster because he will be paired with the veteran Navorro Bowman. Bowman is no nonsense and will refuse to go easy on the rookie, but he won't be able to monitor him off the field. Foster's past will surely come back to bite him and he won't be able to stay on the field long enough to prove his dominance. Hopefully Foster can clear up his red flags and prove me wrong.
2 Deshaun Watson, QB - Houston Texans
If any quarterback from the 2017 draft class can rise up to the lofty expectations set on them, it will be Deshaun Watson. Sadly, not even he will be able to avoid the "bust" label and will lead to Texans fans calling for another franchise QB by the time his rookie contract expires.
Watson would have been a perfect fit for the Chiefs, as he is a game manager. He is not the type of quarterback to push the ball consistently down the field with accuracy, which is what the Texans need with their big play wide receivers, including DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans are built to win now and could contend for a playoff spot in 2017 if Watson can prove he is ready. Odds are he won't be.
1 Mitchell Trubisky, QB - Chicago Bears
Wow. Mitchell Trubisky may have actually had a chance to be a decent quarterback in the NFL, but the circumstances of his drafting have all but sealed his fate. The Chicago Bears went all in to get Trubisky and make him their franchise quarterback, sacrificing a large bundle of future picks (to move up only one spot). It's a large move to make in order to draft a guy who only started one year in college.
As of now, Mike Glennon remains the incumbent starter for the Bears going into 2017, but he will be expected to take over the starting job sometime next season. If Trubisky doesn't work out, he will be eaten alive by Bears fans. The combination of being forced into the starting job before he is ready and the pressure of being the #2 overall pick will be too much for Trubisky.